Doing a St. Joseph's Table has a purpose. It is most basically, the Italian version of the American Thanksgiving. The Table is rich in meaning and has significance for those who create one. A nun once told me, “There is no such thing as a coincidence.” Another said, “only 'God-incidences.'” Traditional Sicilians and Sicilian-Italian-Americans create meaning-laden St. Joseph's Tables to give thanks for blessings granted. Having received many blessings, I volunteered to create one at a church.
St. Joseph's Table was introduced to me almost a decade ago by my husband's Sicilian stepmother. This was the first year I've helped, or put one together. When I offered to do one, had very little notion about it. We were in hubby's hometown twice to see my stepmother-in-law put one on, and that was it. She said each had taken her three months' of work. Now her heath prevents her from creating her own, and she passed the tradition on to me.
Did a lot of online research, called and visited many bakeries asking if they could make the shaped-breads and colorful cookies I'd seen. My favorite Italian cookie that my stepmother-in-law makes is a lemon/orange cookie--knew that was the one item I would bake for the table.
Stepmother-in-law had piles of handwritten recipes. Nine years ago, I agreed to type and organize the recipes. A cookbook was presented to stepmother-in-law for Christmas shortly thereafter. Mistake in her name on the cover, resulted in an extra kept cookbook. Leafing through it for the citrus cookie recipe came across the Calabrian Easter Bread and St. Joseph's Bread recipes. (Earlier posts detail the baking.)
By chance, did not feel well on Friday and rested. Saturday morning rolled around with me doubling over every so often with intestinal pain. Held off leaving as late as possible, but kept in mind the Table needed to get done!
As the Sicilians believe, "St. Joseph will provide." Arrived and began with my sweet husband's help, to put the room and table together. Many small mishaps, though the Table came together. At every turn, someone offered help (seemingly out of the woodwork). Planned to have this year be a solo table, but it really turned into a community effort (as they are suppose to).
Throughout the process of making the St. Joseph's Table, had help and backing. When the table finally came together, it was relatively small, and quietly sensational. Seeing the happy honored faces; eating good food; seeing the community support; meeting a number of parishioners and hearing their stories added to the beauty of the event. Many people left happy.
This whole experience of community, through the temporary St. Joseph's Table immersion, has colored my world with a different type of blessing. Grazie San Giuseppe!